FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 21, 2011
Assembly Bill Establishes
Of The Child Advocate
Assembly Bill Helps Protect Children in State Child Welfare,
Juvenile Justice and Child Care Systems
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Member Barbara M. Clark announced the Assembly passed a bill
(A.0644A/Clark) that would establish a new Executive Office of the Child Advocate to ensure the safety of children in the state’s child welfare, juvenile justice and child care systems.
"No child, especially those in the state’s care, should ever be abused or neglected," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "We must do everything we can to safeguard these children’s safety and well-being. This vital piece of legislation helps to serve that purpose. It will help ensure that the children in the state’s child welfare, juvenile justice and child care systems are healthy and protected."
The bill would:
- Establish an Office of the Child Advocate within the state government, headed by a director;
- Establish a five-year term for the director. The director could be removed, however, if the governor determines that the director abused his or her powers or failed to perform his or her designated duties;
- Authorize the director to access confidential records that pertain to his or her duties; and
- Require the director to:
- Evaluate the delivery of services to children and families by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), local social services districts and voluntary agencies;
- Monitor the implementation of policies, regulations and statutes related to the legal rights of children;
- Review and investigate complaints related to actions of OCFS;
- Visit facilities, centers and programs that serve children in the custody or guardianship of OCFS;
- Take steps to make his or her presence widely known;
- Respond to problems that were called in to a toll-free hotline; and
- Provide written reports with findings and recommendations when he or she discovers a systematic problem.
"Every child deserves to live in a safe and healthy environment," said Clark (D-Queens). "Mistreating children in the state child welfare, juvenile justice and child care systems is inexcusable. That’s why I authored this bill. It will make these systems more transparent, efficient and effective, which will help prevent other children in these systems from being abused or neglected. I urge the Senate and the governor to support this measure. We must protect our state’s most vulnerable children."